Saturday, August 18, 2012

Brace Yourself

Many Canadian municipalities are starting to come to grips with what climate change will mean to their cities and what they need to do, now, to adapt.   This item from TorStar is a pretty graphic depiction of what Toronto is facing even as its beached whale of a first magistrate remains oblivious or at least indifferent to the future.   It's worth  read because it addresses changes that most of you will live long enough to experience.

Here on the island, Victoria is being warned to prepare for wetter, more stormy winters but also hotter, dryer summer conditions.   But it's Vancouver that faces the greatest challenges from climate change.   The combination of heavy winter mountain snowpacks and early spring melt brings flooding to the rivers of the Lower Mainland.   That will be compounded by sea level rise and the likelihood of severe storm surges.   And, if that wasn't trouble enough, large parts of the low-lying communities (below sea level in fact) in the Lower Mainland are subsiding.   With a freshwater flooding problem and a sea water flooding problem, it's not a particularly good time to be sinking.

Quebeckers are also being warned to prepare for severe impacts from climate change.

“It is striking that over the last 10 to 15 years we didn’t have a single season colder than normal,” said Alain Bourque, director of climate change impacts and adaptation at Quebec’s climate change research institute Ouranos. “That is a clear indication that Canada’s climate is heating up beyond any reasonable doubt.”

While most Quebecers may cheer the warmer winters, Bourque warns it is already endangering coastlines, the northern communities that are built on permafrost and our forests, which probably will not be able to adapt fast enough to a warmer climate.

The prairie provinces see in climate change the risk for heatwaves coupled with severe and extended drought similar to what much of the United States is experiencing this year.   Climate change has been identified as causing shrinkage in the northern boreal forests of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.   All three provinces are worried about the security of their water supply.

 It may be that up to 98% of Canadians now accept the reality of man-made climate change but you would never know it from the Petro-Pols of Parliament Hill.   Harper, presumably, is desperate to avoid anything linking climate change and his bitumen trafficking.   That must be why he has chosen a true weasel to serve as his EnviroMin.  

There is much to do and time wasted may come at considerable cost.    As the TorStar article pointed out, a lot of Canada's infrastructure is vulnerable to climate change.   And the greatest threat will come from spikes - sudden extreme heatwaves or rainfall inundation triggering flash floods - the problems we're already seeing elsewhere.   The degraded eastern electricity grid is vulnerable to outages from these spikes.

Changes that just a few years ago we were expecting to arrive by 2020 or 2030 are already becoming reality.   Our optimistic outlooks, coupled by a monstrously successful denialist rear-guard action, have left us well behind events and will require far greater efforts to catch up. 


Anonymous said...

To add my ten cents worth. Newfoundland will be hard hit as well. They are already dealing with hurricanes that ply the easter sea board which are hitting with much more force.

e.a.f. said...

Given the impending floods & rising seas, it might be a good time for developers & municipal governments to stop building on flood plains